The stragglers are Kerith Manderson-Galvin, Sayraphim Lothian and me
The What I Loved awards are on their way. I'm thrilled that so many of them have already been suitably raved about – Melbourne creators have great taste – but no one has talked about my favourite show of the year.
KERITH: When I saw Cinquanta Urlanti Quaranta Ruggenti Sessanta Stridenti, the first Dewey Dell piece in Next Wave, I thought I was going to have to leave the theatre I was so terrified. I experienced all the emotions in all the world from this piece. The first being fear. It was a true experience and so wonderful that so much went in to each facet of the performance. It was extreme and powerful and it made me feel sick and inspired and wish I hadn't quit ballet when I finished school.
sex.violence.blood.gore had me at EVERYTHING WAS PINK. It was a wonderland. Before it started I kept leaning over to people saying, "It's so beautiful, isn't it? Isn't it beaauuuutiiiffuuulll. Oh it's really beautiful isn't it? Beautiful!" And then it happened. And then the conversations happened. We got to talk about gender and sex and race and our cultural histories and our neighbouring countries' histories and it was relevant and it was what we SHOULD be talking about. Also, it showed an alarming lack of understanding of trans identities by some critics (who I can't even remember), which made plays like s.v.b.g even more relevant and important.
Also, Hello my name is otherwise known as The Gun Show. Nicola Gunn is amazing. It was amazing. I want more.
Brigid Gallacher's death scene The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet). Traumatising and truthful and other adjectives and I'm actually tearing up a bit thinking about it.
Comedian/performer Lisa-Skye pissing with perfect aim in to a doggie bowl only to have my partner/performer/BDSM educator Hunter Bruin aka TransBear knock it all over himself and the stage, and without taking a beat to take in what had happened, he just licked it all up. Art.
Greatest theatre moment of my life: 'An afternoon with Stephen Sondheim'. I had to spend the first ten minutes talking myself down from over excitement and reminding myself to breathekerithbreathe but it was STEPHEN SONDHEIM!!! I pretty well saw Shakespeare.
SM: Kerith wrote a play called Jack for this year's Short and Sweet Theatre. Of the 43 plays, it was the only one that I wanted to award Best Writing to; the other judges agreed – but I was prepared to fight for it, if they didn't. Here was a young female voice talking about sex without any of the enforced perceptions/boundaries/dullness surrounding young woman having sex, who was really telling a heartbreaking story about the relationship with her mother. Filled with subtext and vivid details that took us into a little girl's bedroom with a roof of stars, Jack told a story that only that character could tell and has ensured that I'll see everything Kerith writes.
public artist, designer
I loved the 5pounds of repertory theatre work; such an incredible amount of effort, 5 plays in 5 weeks. I especially loved Falling Petals, it was great to see such an amazing Australian play again, too often these works get a single showing and then never see the light of day again. I also love the venue, The Owl and Pussycat has the enthusiasm and supportive nature that The Store Room did last decade. It's awesome to see such a venue alive and well.
I also loved four lark's The Temptation of St Anthony, a beautiful show with great music and an amazing set. Made my heart sing to see it all. These guys are making really interesting work, work that no one else is creating. I'm also looking forward to being able to own the music once they release it.
But I think my favorite moment in the whole of 2012 was No Show's participatory work Shotgun Wedding. Getting to attend a wedding of two strangers who had only just met and with a community of people; we created the whole reception, from an empty hall to tables set, walls decorated, bar organised and cake decorated all in half an hour. It was an amazing work to be a part of, examining community and the rituals we all know how to perform and I was thrilled to be a part of it. (Plus, it may or may not have influenced my own upcoming nuptials.)
SM: Guerrilla kindness cupcakes and the craft table. There was a craft table at This is a door. A craft table! I loved that craft table. There were ribbons, lace, glitter, pipe cleaners, stick-on eyes, little pom poms and tiny coloured ice-cream sticks. Then a few weeks later, my sparklie hoola princess arrived in my letter box!
ANNE-MARIE: The revelation of my favourite show of the year isn't far away, but what was my favourite moment?
There was falling (and the hand letting me go) onto blue inflated plastic in Hold, where I ripped a nail, pulled my shoulder, bruised my leg and realised that no one was coming to save me. Before I fell, I was scared, and for a second I was genuinely fucking terrified. I've never felt such a pure emotion in a performance.
(It was scarier than Nicola Gunn making me draw in public.)
Then there was the relief of getting through the claustrophobic entrance of Impasse without using my panic button and the joy of finding a soft foamy world to climb, crawl and rest on; it must be like what cats feel like when they play on a bed.
Maybe it was crying when a woman held the crying baby taken from her dead mother in the opening scene of Lipsynch.
Or seeing how happy Margret Fulton and her family were at the opening of Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert.
Or talking to the backyard chooks at Summertime in the Garden of Eden.
Or Matt Jesus Kelly's birth in the Last Tuesday Society's Xmas ballet.
My favourite moment was at the Melbourne Recital Centre for the Bang on a Can All-stars performance of Brian Eno's Music For Airports. I've had a groupie-like crush on this group since I saw them in 1996 and have always found it hard to describe why I love them so much. It's not just that they are virtuoso musicians; I've seen many virtuoso musicians who bored me. It's not just that they play music I dig; that's easy to find. It's not even that live music is incomparable to recorded music; I'm happy with iPod headphones. I'd already seen them perform Field Recordings, so I'd had my Bang fix. But guitarist, the super-adorable Mark Stewart, introduced the night and talked about the Bang on a Can community of musicians in New York and how the "travelling circus" All-stars bring their audiences into that community by playing for us. And he talked about their joy in spending two days rehearsing with the Melbourne Conservatorium students who played and sang with them for Airports.
The music was perfect, the venue made it sound even better, but it was knowing that every musician on the stage LOVED what they were doing and would have been just as happy if they were playing to an empty hall. Everyone in that audience is now a member of the Bang on a Can community.
Do what you love and love – really love – what you do (even if no one who enjoys it knows that you're there) and you will have an audience who can't get enough of you.
SM: AM stops me from publishing angry first drafts, goes back and fixes my typos, and doesn't let me call people wankers.